Something Else
by Synchronik

The knock on the door comes just as Ryan's settled on the couch and lifted the sling over his head. He rolls his shoulders and tips his head back against the cushion. "Fuck," he mutters.

For an instant, he thinks about pretending that he's not home. It's not anyone from the club (they would all call before they stopped by) and it's not anyone from the press (they never invade player homes without invitation because the relationship is so symbiotic--piss off one guy and the rest of the team will freeze you out), and he doesn't want to talk to a salesperson or a Girl Scout or a neighbor.

But the knock happens again, louder this time. "Fuck," Ryan says again, and pushes himself to his feet with his good hand. The tile is cold, and the third knock echoes loud in the high foyer. He feels the first twinge of headache. It better be a Girl Scout, because only cookies are going to make him--


"Okay!" Ryan shouts and flings open the door to the slanting knowing smile of Chris Stewart.

"What?" The feeling is like being hit in the head with a heavy pillow. Ryan looks around. He's still in California, not New York. And yet Chris, who went to the Yankees last year, is standing in front of him in a white button down and jeans, one hand in his pocket, the other poised to knock again. Ryan swallows. "What are you doing here?"

"Nice to see you, too," Chris says, and steps past Ryan into the house.

"I, wait. It's good to see you, but how are you even here?"

"I pulled a muscle last week," Chris says, looking around the foyer. "I'm off for another couple days. Nice place."

"Oh right," Ryan says. He's staring, he knows he's staring, but he can't help it. It's been months. Months since he's seen Chris's face in person instead of on television. Months since he rolled over and saw Chris asleep on the other side of the bed. Months since--

--he reaches out with his good hand and hooks his arm around Chris's waist, pulling him close. Chris's smile broadens, his hands sliding up Ryan's arms.

"Hey," he says. He smells like peppermint gum.

"Hey yourself," Ryan says, and kisses him.

Chris feels slimmer that he did the last time Ryan touched him, his body harder, but that could just be because Ryan's squeezing him so tight, breathing through his nose so that he doesn't have to stop kissing him. Chris.


He doesn't think about Chris much. He doesn't let himself. They don't email, they barely call, the occasional text is short and dry. They meet during the All-Star Break, if neither of them is going, and they live, in the off-season, in a condo in Pittsburgh that Ryan bought under his parents' name and that's it. They're together when they're together, and when they're not, Chris is a memory, a mirage, a dream.

Except he's here.

The door is still standing wide open, a sweet breeze, smelling of grass and bougainvillea, drifting past them. Chris strokes Ryan's cheek with one hand and pulls back enough to look into his eyes. "Take off your clothes," he says. "Right now."

Ryan does better than that. He grabs Chris's shirt with his good hand, just above the button over Chris's sternum, and pulls a swift, certain motion that sends white plastic buttons skittering across the tile. Then he slides his hand back around Chris's waist, his palm gliding over Chris's warm skin to the curve of his spine, and backs him up, one step at a time, until the door is closed and Chris is leaning against it, hips tilted forward to press against Ryan's.

"This is my only shirt," Chris says, lifting his chin so that Ryan can lick the stubble on his throat.

"You don't need a shirt," Ryan murmurs. Now that he's got Chris against the wall, he runs his free hand over Chris's stomach, the thin layer of hair on his chest. His right hand, his pitching hand, immobilized by the cast, itches with the desire to stroke Chris, too. He braces the cast against the doorframe and leans in, his other hand on the waistband of Chris's jeans, his mouth on the crook of Chris's neck. Chris's hands are light on Ryan's shoulders, but they flex when Ryan bites lightly.

"I don't need a shirt," Chris mumbles.

Ryan pushes a thigh between Chris's legs. They're the same height, but Chris is all leg and he almost sits on Ryan's thigh, his fingers twitching on the hem of Ryan's t-shirt. "Take this," he starts, but then Ryan bites his earlobe and he inhales the rest of the sentence. His hands are clear, though: take this off.

Ryan crosses his hand over his body and hooks the t-shirt, yanking it over his head in one smooth motion. It snags on the cast and hangs there, but Ryan doesn't care. He's chest to chest with Chris, their bellies and erections pressed together. Chris is panting, his hips moving slightly, head back, arms slung over Ryan's shoulders. His face, what Ryan can see of it, is flushed. Suddenly, Chris moans.

"I gotta sit down," he says. "My leg."

"Oh, shit," Ryan says and steps back. Groin pull. Fucking up against the door probably isn't recommended. "Come on."

He takes Chris past the couch and down a wide hallway to the bedroom. The rental is on a hillside, so the whole wall is windows looking down toward the water, the sun slanting in. It's a beautiful day, the sky bright, the flowers in bloom, and Ryan doesn't see any of it because Chris has flopped down on his back on Ryan's giant bed and is sliding down the button of his jeans

They're in love, if you want to call it that. They call it that to each other, when they're together. The sex is hot, Chris is hot, but it stopped being about "hot" a long time ago. That matters, Ryan thinks, watching Chris push his jeans and underwear down in one smooth motion, his erection bobbing upward to slap against his stomach, but there's so much around the sex, embedded into it and somehow outside of it, that Ryan can't always tell one thing from another.

The strange fluttering he feels when he kneels down to help Chris get his shoes and jeans off, like being nervous but also not nervous at the same time. The way that Chris smells in the crook of his knee and the crease of his thigh, even when he hasn't been on a plane for four hours, that makes Ryan feel like he's just come home. The grin on his face, so wide that it almost hurts, but that he can't suppress when he looks down at Chris from the end of the mattress, just before he slides his palm up Chris's leg and over his firm cock. It's sexy, of course: Chris's lean naked body stretched out on the bed, his legs slightly spread, his arms akimbo above his head, his own grin echoing Ryan's own. But plenty of things are sexy. Chris is something else.

They have to be careful because of Chris's leg, and Ryan makes the mistake of trying to brace himself on the cast and collapses onto the bed, yelping like a puppy that's had its foot stepped on, but Chris shifts onto his right side, and Ryan shifts onto his left, and they fall into each other. They kiss and kiss and kiss until Ryan's dizzy, reminded of eighth grade, when he first really made out with a boy, Jason McNamara, in his parents' den while they were making dinner. The breathlessness is the same, and the tantalizing feeling of his pants being too tight, even though he's just wearing cotton athletic shorts. His erection rubs against the thin material, making a dark wet spot that Chris sometimes reaches down and outlines with just the tips of his fingers. Each time, Ryan arches and moans, hoping. He knows that he can just reach down himself, even with the cast on, and yank the elastic waistband down and free himself, but he doesn't. It's not about efficiency; it's about Chris's hands on him.

Finally, finally, Chris inches his fingers into the shorts, pulling them down in increments. Ryan tries to hold still, not to squirm, and watches as his own skin is revealed.

Chris stops when Ryan's about half exposed, curls onto his side, and closes his mouth around just the head of Ryan's cock. It's so good, Ryan almost convulses. "yeah," he says, his voice surprisingly high. He doesn't mean to move his hips, but they move anyway, instinctively, seeking more of Chris's mouth. He can't see what Chris is doing from this angle, just the top of his head, but the feeling is slippery and wet and perfect, and Ryan hears himself panting--"yeah, yeah chris, yeah," --in time with the beat of his hips.

He doesn't last long, maybe two or three minutes at most. If he and Chris didn't know each other so well, he might be a little embarrassed, but there have been a thousand quickies in their history, and almost a dozen weekends when all they did was take turns making each other sex-crazed, hours upon hours, so he lets it happen and when he opens his eyes, Chris is lying on his back, his mouth swollen and wet and smiling. Chris glances over at him. He's still hard.

They can't fuck. Ryan wants to, desperately, and from the way that Chris arches underneath him when Ryan rolls over to cover his body, so does Chris, but the season comes first. This is his chance, everyday catcher for the Yankees, and Ryan's not going to screw it up because he's horny. Instead, he slides down between Chris's knees, and wraps his hand around Chris's dick. He's got a great dick, smooth and straight and the right size to fit in Ryan's hand and Ryan's mouth, which it does while he pins Chris's hips to the bed with a cast-wrapped arm across his belly.

Chris's hand lands on Ryan's cast and stays there, closing over the plaster, flexing in time with Ryan's movements and the rasp of his breath. He's quiet, he's almost always quiet, but Ryan can tell when he's close by the jerk of his hips and the flex of his shoulder muscles and the way his shoulders hitch against the bedding. "Ry," he says, suddenly. "Ryan." It's a warning, but not one that Ryan cares about. Afterwards, Ryan crawls upward, just a little, and rests his head on Chris's still-heaving stomach, the curve of one of Chris's ribs against his cheekbone. He feels Chris's hand in his hair.

"Jesus," Chris pants, fingers moving idly. Ryan turns his head and kisses the smooth skin there, breathing in. This is how he smells, he thinks, closing his eyes and putting his head back down.

"How long are you here?" he mumbles.

"I leave day after tomorrow," Chris says. "Meeting the team in Tampa Bay."

"You be ready by then?" Ryan squeezes Chris's thigh, part of the question.

"Dunno," Chris says. "I think so. How about you?"

Ryan sighs. "At least six weeks."

Chris gives a low whistle and stokes the base of Ryan's neck. "That sucks." "Yeah," Ryan says, closing his eyes. It does suck. He was lights out for the first time maybe since the WBC, locating his fastball in and out. And now he's out for a month, maybe two, and he's going to have to do rehab, and it's his pitching hand so all of this is assuming that it even heals right in the first place. No one's said it, no one will, but this might be it for him. He might be done.

But that possibility is far away, its likelihood unknown. Right now, he's got a contract and a career and a team that loves him. He's got world-class medical care and enough money to last for a long while. And he's got comfortable bed and a sunny afternoon and a naked boyfriend who can stay for another 48 hours. What else does he need?

The End